Enamel Pins 101: What They are And How To Wear Them

April 08, 2021 7 min read

Enamel Pins 101: What They are And How To Wear Them

 

For the last few years, enamel pins have been making a major comeback. They’re the perfect fun and affordable way to show off everything from your music taste to your sense of humor. So if you’re trying to figure out how to style your favorite enamel pin or simply want to know more about how they’re made, keep on reading.

Enamel Pins 101: Everything You Need To Know

What Are Enamel Pins?

First, let’s make sure we’re all on the same page about what an enamel pin actually is. You might be used to seeing buttons or badges (those circular, laminated pins), but enamel pins are a little different.

 

An enamel pin is a metal pin that you can attach to backpacks, jackets, jeans, and more. They can come in almost any shape, design, or size to suit any aesthetic or style.

How Are Enamel Pins Made?

One thing that sets enamel pins apart is how they’re made. First, the artist creates, edits, and perfects a design that will translate well onto an enamel pin. Then, they send their design off to the factory they work with to have it produced. This is what that process looks like:

  1. First, a mold is made. This is done by creating a metal mold of the design in reverse, kind of like a photograph negative. Some factories have machines similar to 3-D printers that can simply create the mold in a super-strong metal.
  2. Next, the pins are stamped with the mold. Enamel pins tend to be made from iron or zinc alloy which are both soft metals. They can easily be stamped into the correct shape by the ultra-strong mold from the first step.
  3. Soft enamel pins are electroplated, then have the enamel applied.The electroplating (which is a fancy word for adding another layer of metal on top of the pin) will give the soft enamel pin its base color. Then, the enamel colors get injected by a machine or by hand, depending on the factory. Soft enamel pins aren’t filled up with as much color as hard enamel pins, so there’s a bit of a recessed look to them. After the color is applied, these pins are baked and then they’re done!
  4. Hard enamel pins get enamel first, then electroplating.Unlike soft enamel pins, hard pins are filled all the way up with enamel color so they have a flat surface. Then they’re polished to make sure the metal and enamel are completely flat before electroplating the metal ridges that show through on the pin.

 

 

 

Are There Different Kinds of Enamel Pins?

As you can tell from how enamel pins are made, there are different options when manufacturing pins. When it comes to enamel pins, there are two main differences that set apart pins--whether they are hard or soft and what kind of pin backs they come with.

Soft Vs. Hard Enamel Pins

Most designs can be made into either hard or soft enamel pins, so you can’t really go wrong. However, there are some differences, beyond just the way that they’re made. Here’s what to know about hard enamel pins versus soft enamel pins.

 

Hard enamel pins:

  • Tend to be more durable and resistant to scratches and marks.
  • Have a clean finished look.
  • Enamel is flush with metal lines on the pin.
  • Limited metal finishes like gold or silver.

 

Soft enamel pins:

  • Have raised metal edges and recessed enamel.
  • Thinner than hard enamel pins.
  • Tend to cost less to manufacture than hard enamel pins.
  • Have the option of adding a layer of epoxy at the end of the manufacturing process to make the texture smooth and flat.

Pin Back Options

The pin back is the device on the back of your pin that you use to secure it to clothing or fabric. There are a few different kinds of pin backs that manufacturers and designers can choose from. Each one has its own pros and cons.

  • Butterfly clasp → Butterfly clasps, also known as military clasps, are the most common kind. You pinch two little wings on the clasp to take it on and off of the posts. These are popular because they’re cheap and fairly reliable. It’s unlikely that an enamel pin with a butterfly clasp could accidentally fall off and get lost, but it can happen if a pin is too heavy or gets snagged on something.
  • Rubber cap→ Some enamel pins will feature a simple rubber cap on your pin backs. They tend to fall off easily, but they come in a bunch of colors to match your pin. If you’re wearing your pin on a backpack or jean jacket, a rubber cap isn’t a very secure type of pin back. However, they’re super easy to remove and replace so they’re good for pins you move a lot.
  • Magnets → If you don’t want to deal with needles and damaging fabric, magnets are the perfect way to secure your pin. This is best for thinner fabrics, and you can also turn the pin into a fridge magnet.
  • Safety pins→ You know how round laminated button pins have safety pins on the back? Well, that’s also an option for enamel pins. Safety pins are a secure option that make it virtually impossible for the pin to fall off and get lost. But safety pin pin backs are less sturdy than other kinds and can easily get bent or warped.
  • Locking pin back →Locking pin backs are hands-down the most secure way to latch your enamel pin. The mechanism is a little more complicated than other options, but it is by far the best way to make sure you never lose a pin again. To put on a locking pin back, you simply slide it onto the post. But to take the pin back off of the enamel pin, you need to pull both parts of the clasp in opposite directions to release the internal locking mechanism. Sometimes it takes a little time to get the hang of these, but it’s well worth the effort for any enamel pin enthusiast.

How To Style Enamel Pins For Any Look

Now that you know the ins and outs of enamel pins and how they’re made, it’s time to style them so you can show off your collection.

How To Wear Enamel Pins On Your Backpack

Wearing enamel pins on your backpack is a classic way to show off your style. From elementary school kids to millennials on the subway, anyone can rock a backpack with enamel pins. If you have a backpack, it’s probably something you carry around almost everyday so it’s the perfect place to make a style statement.

 

When it comes to placement, there are a few different options depending on the kind of backpack you have. You can pin some on the small front pocket to the top of the backpack near the zipper. If you don’t want to put holes in the fabric of your backpack, you can also opt to place some enamel pins on the straps.

 

Just remember that backpacks tend to get thrown around a lot and brush up against people and things. Even the most secure pin back can come loose and lose your enamel pin.

Clear Display Window Pin Bags

Whether you are a little more dedicated to your enamel pin collection than the average person or you simply don’t want to risk losing your favorite pin, a clear display window pin bag is the way to go. You can place your pins on the bag’s fabric like normal, but there’s an added layer of clear plastic protection in case your pin somehow becomes dislodged and falls off.

 

No need to make a wanted-poster for your pin, because it’s been caught by the clear plastic! With a clear display window pin bag you never have to worry about your favorite enamel pin getting lost or stolen. And the plastic also protects against scratches and dings, so your pin collection will stay looking good as new.

 

These bags come in lots of different styles and colors, so you’re sure to find the perfect one to match your aesthetic.

How To Wear Enamel Pins On Clothing

If you’re not the type to rock enamel pins on a backpack or bag, no worries. There’s still lots of options to style your enamel pins and show off your collection. Here’s some of our favorite ways to wear enamel pins on clothing:

  • Denim Jackets: Wearing enamel pins on denim jackets is a cool and classic way to rock your collection. Throw some pins on the front pockets, sleeves, or lapel. You can mix in some iron-on patches for a more personalized look.

Face Masks: Until this COVID mess goes away, we’re stuck wearing masks everywhere we go. Spice up your plague prevention with some enamel pins. Just make sure they’re not too heavy, or they could make your mask droopy and less safe.

  • Hats and Beanies: If you’re not afraid of hat hair, throw some of your favorite pins on your beanies or baseball caps. They can go on the brim of the cap or the sides. Just make sure the enamel pin’s post isn’t digging into your head!
  • Shirt Collar or Lapel:If you have a favorite enamel pin (or set of pins) that you really want to show off, pop a pair on your collar or lapels. Coordinate the colors or designs for a super stylish look.

Witchy Enamel Pins From Badmouthed Bruja

If you’re into the witchy look, then check out our pin collections here. We hand-design soft and hard enamel pins to add some bad ass witchy flair to your style.

 

 

 

 

 


Leave a comment

Comments will be approved before showing up.